SI 597/697 Community Information: Project Corps

Professor Paul Resnick

Fall 1999

Revised 10/25/99 (PR).


Meets Thursdays 5-6:30PM  in 311 West Hall
Class home page
Project listings

Participation in this course makes you a member of the SI Community Information Corps.

This course has two components:

For example, if you were planning to do 8 hours of project work per week, that would be 2 credits of project work (and hence 2 PEP points). You would sign up for 3 credits in all.

Most of this syllabus describes the first component of the course. (For information about potential fall projects, click here.) Students will read about and discuss theories of community, civil society, and the role of the non-profit sector, and draw connections with their project work (reading and reflection). There will also be frequent opportunities to meet some of the national leaders of the community information movement (social networking) and possibly travel to relevant conferences and workshops. At the end of this course, students who are interested in pursuing careers in the community information movement should know how to begin a job search in this area.

You are encouraged to participate for multiple semesters (even all four semesters of the master's program); while we'll keep revisiting similar themes, there will be minimal overlap in the readings and activities.

The first day of each semester will be a project-fest, where faculty announce project opportunities and try to recruit you to join the projects.


Students who have completed SI501 should register for this course as SI697. Other students should register for this course as SI597.


After participating in SI 597-697, you should be able to:


A course pack is now or will soon be available at Dollar Bill Copying, on Church Street, just south of South University. You will need to read materials before class so that we can have lively discussion (see reaction paper assignments below).

Assignments and Due Dates

If you're signed up for project work through this class, you will have additional assignments:


If you make a consistent, serious effort, you should get an A in this class.

Office Hours

Mondays and Thursdays 4-5 PM, and by appointment
314 West Hall

Session Schedule

Date Topic Guests Readings (read before class)
Sep 9 Introductions of people and projects SI faculty; Karen Jordan none
Sep 16 The Digital Divide; civic engagement 1999 NTIA report on the Digital Divide
Putnam, R. (1995). “Bowling Alone.” Journal of Democracy 6(1): 65-78.
Sep 18 Dinner Party at Professor Resnick's house, 5-8PM.
Sep 23 The roles of non-profit organizations Lester M. Salamon. Holding the Center: America's Nonprofit Sector at a Crossroads. Nathan Cummings Foundation report.
Sep 30 The roles of citizens Boyte, H. C. and N. N. Kari (1996). Building America: The Democratic Promise of Public Work. Philadelphia, Temple University Press. pp.1-32,164-178
Oct 6, 3-4:30PM Community Media Developments Worldwide  Dirk Koning (SI-wide event)
Oct. 7 youth programming at Community Technology Centers Professor Yang Zhao, MSU School of Education MSU klubhouses manual; excerpts from Public Achievement manual
Oct 14 What is community? Etzioni, A. (1993). The Spirit of Community: The Reinvention of American Society. New York, Simon and Schuster. pp. 1-53.
Oct 21 Local information portals John Bebow, MLive; Prof. Joan Durrance Visit Web sites: 
Oct 28 Non-profit portals Jillaine Smith, Benton Foundation Communications Policy and Practice program Visit web sites:  AOL's portal (URL to be announced this fall)
Nov 4 Public participation in politics Doug Ross TBA
Nov 11 Social Capital Coleman, J. S. (1988). “Social Capital in the Creation of Human Capital.” American Journal of Sociology 94(Supplement): S95-S120.
Nov 17 Community Organizing informal lunch with Social Work students from the "Community Organizing" class none
Nov 18 Collective action Ostrom, E. (1990). Governing the Commons: the Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, pp.1-28.
Dec 2 Tech support for Non-profits Deborah Bey Final report on the National Strategy for Nonprofit Technology
Dec 9 Project reports II

Date Topic Guests Assignments
Jan 6 Introductions of people and projects SI faculty; Karen Jordan none
Jan 13 Native American telecom
Jan 20 The roles of citizens Walzer, M. (1998). The Idea of Civil Society: A Path to Social Reconstruction. Community Works: The Revival of Civil Society in America. E. J. Dionne. Washington, DC, Brookings Institution: 123-143.
Jan 27 Public history and cultural heritage
Feb 3 Non-profits and technology Joines or Brotsky? Final report on the National Strategy for Nonprofit Technology
Feb 10 Social Capital: Weak Ties Granovetter, M. S. (1973). “The Strength of Weak Ties.” American Journal of Sociology 78(6): 1360-1380.
Feb 17 Universal Service: communications policy Schement?
Feb 24 CTCs and Telecenters Cogburn
March 9 Deliberative democracy Habermas? Federalist papers excerpt?; MN e-democracy site;
March 16 Civic Engagement Putnam book (excerpts)
March 23 Community/Public Interest Research Loka visitor? Loka report
March 30 Civic Practices Carmen Sirianni? excerpts from
April 6 Project reports I
April 13 Project reports II
The roles of professionals?